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01_USF_0918.qxp:USF Cover 22/08/2018 16:05 Page 1

September/October/November 2018

Upholsterer & Soft Furnisher

Out Now! Our latest catalogue features over 300 styles of wooden feet, a wide selection of decorative castors and studding, fabrics and much much more!

To order your copy call

0113 235 1111 petercookint.com sales@petercookint.com Lightbulb Moment

The Best of British

Summer of Content

New book sheds fresh light on lampshade making

The national treasure behind our priceless treasures

Red hot results from accredited training schools

Official journal of the Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishers

www.upholsterers.co.uk


02_USF_0918.qxp:000_USF_1217 28/08/2018 14:13 Page 1

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03_USF_0918.qxp:00_USF_0017 29/08/2018 10:31 Page 3

Comment

Upholsterer & Soft Furnisher

Jan Turner Editor

Peter Cook International are pleased to launch their latest printed catalogue. There are plenty of new additions across the wooden feet section including new finishes in the oak timber range. For a copy please call 0113 235 1111.

September/October/N ovember 2018

Upholsterer & Soft Furnis her

Out Now! Our latest catalo gue features over 30 0 styles of wooden feet, a wide select ion of decorative castor s and studding , fabric s and much much mo re!

To order your copy call

01 13 23 5 111 1

pe tercookint.com sales@pe tercoo kint.com Lightbulb Mome

New book sheds fresh nt light on lampshade mak ing

The Best of British

The national treasure behind our priceless treasures

Official journal of the Association of Mast er Upholsterers and Soft Furnishers

Summer of Conten t Red hot resul accredited training ts from schools www.upholsterers.c o.uk

We sadly report on the death of another much loved and widely known member of the AMUSF community in this issue – and one who will forever be remembered for striking a significant first. Wynne Gilham earned a place in the history books when she became the first ever lady Master of the Worshipful Company of Upholders in 2015-16, having already been the first woman to be accepted into the livery company when she joined in 2002 (see page 6). While, on the face of it, this is all breakthrough stuff in an historical sense, in reality women are rapidly coming to dominate what was once an almost exclusively male trade. One look at the annual training school presentation photographs (see pages 14 - 15) bears quick witness to that, the sea of smiling faces made up largely of females. For sure women bring their own ‘take’ to the craft – a great example being Joanna Heptinstall’s new book on lampshade upholstery which you can read about on page 12. One of the more niche areas of upholstery, lampshade making and restoration is a little written about side of the trade and after 20 years of working as an upholsterer, Joanna has found making lampshades has not only become an area of specialism but one which gives reign to her ‘creative finesse’. It’s particularly interesting to read how she sees this specialism as very much part of the wider upholstery skill set, using the same sort of tools and techniques to achieve the end result. For some stunning end results of a more traditional nature, be sure to take a look at pages 20 and 22 where some of the amazing work of Barry Ansell, one of the UK’s most accomplished upholsterers, is featured. For Barry, working on commissions that involve some of the nation’s most priceless treasures – both publicly and privately owned – is bread and butter stuff. From prestigious country houses to A-list celebrities and even the Royals, he works with them all. Barry is particularly proud of his work on the upholstery restoration of one of the most important furniture collections in the world – the Chippendale collection at Dumfries House. It is work that will pay lasting tribute to the skills and expertise he has built up over many decades in a craft that was undoubtedly male dominated when he first set out to learn the trade.

Upholsterer & Soft Furnisher Editor: Jan Turner, AKA PR T: 01756 795374 F: 01756 798789 E: editorial@upholsterers.co.uk Advertising Sales: 01732 441133

Today Barry and, in the past Wynne, have both created their own legacies that not many of us get to achieve and it is always a privilege to write about the folk who do. There are many of you out there – and I look forward to writing about more of you next time! Until then…

Jan Turner

Published and Printed by Knockout Print Principal House, Hop Pocket Lane, Paddock Wood, KENT TN12 6DQ Registered in England no. 07263132

www.upholsterers.co.uk

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04_USF_0918.qxp:04_USF_1217 28/08/2018 15:07 Page 4

Showcase 1

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1. New KD-3 Dual 8" Blade electric foam cutter from Livedale. Variable speed, electric foam cutting twin blade knife - provides an excellent smooth, clean cut. Standard blade length is 8” or optional 12” blade available. Comes complete with metal carry case. A high-quality rival to leading manufacturer foam cutters. All this for only £205.00+ vat. Replacement blades available from £8.00 + vat. Contact: Livedale Foam & Sundries, Unit D Enterprise Court, Seaman Way, Wigan, Lancs WN2 2AG T: 01942 825144 E: info@livedale.co.uk www.livedale.co.uk 2. Peter Cook International has increased their range of Queen Anne style legs. Martin Cave, General Manager, explains more; “The Queen Anne range is produced here in the UK and has proven popular for us since we launched two years ago. We still felt there was room for improvement and took the decision to stock more sizes and fixing methods. We can now stain in a wider range of colours which customers are being very receptive to”. Peter Cook International, Aneal Business Centre, Cross Green Approach, Leeds LS9 0SG. Tel: 0113 235 1111 Email: sales@petercookint.com Peter Cook International (Trentside), Unit 2 Acton Avenue, Off Fields Farm Road, Long Eaton NG10 1GA. Tel: 0115 946 0006 Email: trentside@petercookint.com 3. Merrick & Day. Curtain-making products as used by professionals. In fact, everything, except the fabric, to make professional looking curtains and Roman blinds. Order online or phone for next day delivery. Free next day cutting service on all Merrick & Day Roman blind headrails. Fibreglass rods and flat bottom bars included when ordered with a headrail. Large or small orders. Trade and retail welcome. Merrick & Day Ltd Tel:01652 648814 www.merrick-day.com

If you have a new product that you would like to be included in the next edition, just send in a high resolution image, 50 words of text and contact details to advert@upholsterers.co.uk – cost £99

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Upholsterer & Soft Furnisher September/October/November 2018

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Contents News

AMUSF Contacts

6&7

AMUSF News Update and Branch Briefings

8

Industry News

10

Ask FIRA

Features

Head Office Association General Manager: Richard Ranklin E: richard.ranklin@upholsterers.co.uk Office Manager: Susan Tyler E: admin@upholsterers.co.uk

12

Feature: Shades of Success

14 & 15 Training School Summer Roundup

The Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishers Ltd, (AMUSF Ltd), Chancery Court, Lincoln’s Inn, Lincoln Road, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, HP12 3RE Tel: 01494 429340. E: enquiries@upholsterers.co.uk Website: www.upholsterers.co.uk

16 & 17 MyDecozo 18

Member Profile: David Harris of Kobe

20 & 22 Feature: The Best of British 24

Expert Advice: Spring Edges

26

In the Hotseat: Carl Irving

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AMUSF news roundup

WYNNE GILHAM

O

ne of the soft furnishing trade’s best known faces – and the woman to make history as the first ever lady Master of the Worshipful Company of Upholders – passed away on Sunday July 1. Wynne Gilham, with Michael for 63 years and his business partner for 47, died following an 18 month battle with a rare and aggressive form of skin cancer. Well known to AMUSF members and Fellows, Wynne was first and foremost a family woman although her love of people saw her involved in a wide range of organisations – from lifelong church member to organiser of many charitable events and even leading light in a drama group. But a particular highlight was her 2015-16 year in office as Master of the Worshipful Company of Upholders. Right by her side – as he had been since they met when Wynne was 15 and he 16 – was the man who Wynne described as ‘my right hand man’, Michael Gilham. Together they established Gilain’s Interiors in 1969. As Wynne told U&SF for an article to mark her year as Master of the Upholders: “I’d been able to sew from an early age and by the time I was 13, was making many of my own clothes. So when Michael decided he would like to set up in business, he

ON

ITI COMPET

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6

was able to teach me everything he knew about making curtains from the nine years he’d spent studying soft furnishings and management.” At its height Gilain’s employed eight other people and prestigious commissions included providing the impressively long and luxurious drapes now seen by the choir stalls at St Paul’s Cathedral. A long time member of the AMUSF and FAMU, Wynne first joined the Upholders in 2002 when she became the first woman Upholder and 10 years later was invited on to The Court. Not long after she was appointed junior warden, then senior warden and, in 2015, she made it into the history books as Master. Asked what he felt Wynne would most be remembered for, Michael said: “Quite simply her zest for life. She thoroughly enjoyed life and always made the best of everything – and that is something that is clearly coming through in all the kind messages I have received. People remember her for always smiling and as a very sociable person.” Hugely important to Wynne was her family, particularly sons Tim and Andrew and her four grandchildren. But with three sisters and their own families, Wynne’s extended family is thought to number around 95 in total! Her lifelong dream to retire to the seaside came true last year when she and Michael moved to an apartment in Folkestone, with views overlooking the English Channel to France. Said Michael: “Although she wasn’t in the best of health for much of her time here, Wynne did enjoy transforming the apartment into a place that was just as she and I wanted it. “Wynne had always loved city life but I’m so glad she got to realise her dream of having a place overlooking the sea. She loved organising and it was that along with being very sociable which was behind so many of the charitable events she arranged, particularly for a Masonic Lodge that I am involved with and for which she and I were the festival secretaries for 23 years.” A family only funeral was held at the church where Wynne was confirmed and married to Michael – Holy Trinity Church, Barkingside, Ilford in Essex – on Monday July 23. A service to celebrate her life will be held in the City of London this Autumn – the date of which is still to be announced.

Jayne Bell of Number Eighty One Bespoke Upholstery in Hitchin, Herts is the winner of the variable speed, electric foam cutting knife featured in the page 5 competition of the last issue of Upholsterer & Soft Furnisher.

Upholsterer & Soft Furnisher September/October/November 2018


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AMUSF news roundup

THE FELLOWS DO DOVER

More than 30 people attended this year’s Fellows AGM and annual summer gathering, held in Dover. The weekend long event at the Ramada Hotel was organised by Kent branch and

included free time to make the most of the many activities on offer in Dover. Reporting on the weekend, Chapter clerk Mary Crack said: “The weather was beautiful, as was the setting. We had a very

WYCOMBE BOUND The AMUSF is on the move – again! Four years after moving in to the Clare Centre in Saunderton, the association is moving back to High Wycombe following the sale of the charity centre to new owners. At 200 sq ft the new serviced office, on a business park about one mile from the town centre, is slightly larger than that at the Clare Centre. The AMUSF officially took up residence at the new office from September 1 – the phone number is 01494 429340. Said association manager Richard Ranklin: “While we are obviously disappointed to be moving from the Clare Centre where we have been based for the past four years, the new

office is larger and better located for both staff and visitors. We will miss all the friends we have made in Saunderton but look forward to meeting lots of new ones. For the first time since we moved from Cardiff we will no longer be sharing office space with the BFM which has moved to Long Eaton and whose companionship is already being missed!” Among matters to be organised from the new offices is the association’s AGM this coming Autumn, final details of which are still to be announced. The new head office address will be: AMUSF, Chancery Court, Lincolns Inn, Lincoln Road, High Wycombe, Bucks, HP12 3RE

good attendance, in fact the best we have had for a while, which made for a lot of laughter and fun, catching up with people we hadn’t seen for a while. “The whole weekend was very well organised and just

flowed, so our thanks go to the Kent branch for everything they did to ensure that. Instead of the usual quiz on Saturday, we were given archive photos of past events and asked to identify the people and places. That brought back a whole host of memories. “We missed the presence and wisdom of Joan Milton who was one of our most active members and it was decided to sponsor Dave Hayes who is doing a walk along the Great Wall of China in her memory.” Next year’s Fellows outing will be at Lytham St Anne’s from June 21 – 23.

Hunt for new association manager The hunt is on for a new association manager as Richard Ranklin prepares to step down and retire. Richard has managed the AMUSF for the past six years and an official job advert is now going out seeking a new manager. Said association chairman Martin Pickard: “We are looking for someone who can really help to shape the future of the AMUSF. Our board of volunteer directors has created an exciting new five year plan to educate the public, support the trade and grow both our membership and our influence across and beyond the sector. “Richard has done an excellent job in ensuring the AMUSF is back on track as a thriving trade association and with his planned and much deserved retirement we now need to recruit a special individual capable of working with our willing band of volunteers and small administrative staff to make that five year vision a reality.” Key elements within the directors’ strategy include: improving membership engagement; growing membership to the whole sector; expanding training for all – both through the association’s own qualifications and liaison with national training bodies. Said Martin: “The ideal candidate will have first class communication, marketing and management skills and experience as a senior manager in the running of a trade association or business. Some background in upholstery, soft furnishings or interiors is desirable but not essential but principally we are looking for a lot of energy and enthusiasm.”

Upholsterer & Soft Furnisher

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Industry roundup

BITA ROADSHOW The British Interiors & Textiles Association (BITA) goes on tour this month with its September Roadshows 2018. Diane Harding, BITA director and secretary said: “Talking to exhibitors and visitors from our roadshows over the past 10 years, it is clear they have missed our local shows which mean less travel and cost for visitors, especially in the North and Midlands – so by popular demand, we are back on the road!” Recognised for their diversity, BITA roadshows feature brands at all levels as well as new and up and coming suppliers from across the UK. Attended by buyers, suppliers and key industry leaders alike, the roadshow dates are: September 9, Surrey; September 11, Nottingham; September 13, Newcastle; September 16, Harrogate; September 18, Milton Keynes. For more information visit http://interiortextiles.co.uk/

NEW BFC MANIFESTO The BFC has published its second manifesto calling for government co-operation and support for the furniture and furnishings sector on training, exports, standards and regulations and the environment. As the UK furniture industry's representative body out to ensure government policies and initiatives support a thriving furniture, furnishings and bed sector, the manifesto includes a call for clarity on Brexit negotiations; enhanced long term export support; increased support for training to resolve the growing skills gap; the maintenance and policing of safety standards and regulations; and engagement with, and support for, moving towards a more circular economy. “It has been encouraging to see the government's renewed focus on industry and we welcomed the publication of the Industrial Strategy in November, which can only have a positive impact” said BFC chairman Jonathan Hindle. “However it did not fully address our concerns about the skills gap, export support or indeed support in general for what is seen as a more traditional manufacturing sector.” As before, the BFC 2018 Manifesto has been developed in response to an industry-wide survey, completed by 65 companies across the sector  Said Jonathan: “At nearly £17 billion and rising, the furniture and furnishings industry is a substantial growth industry for the UK, supporting over 327,000 jobs across 50,000 registered companies. Manufacture of furniture and beds in Britain is one of the top three divisions driving manufacturing growth in the UK, with output of over £11 billion emanating from 8,390 companies employing 118,000 individuals.” With almost 80% of survey respondents concerned about their ability to recruit adequately skilled staff over the next few years, the government’s approach to education and apprenticeships remains crucial to the success of the sector, says the BFC.  Said Jonathan: “Without highly skilled employees, the UK's reputation for high quality innovative goods – the very products that present the best export opportunities – will decline.”

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Upholsterer & Soft Furnisher September/October/November 2018

EXHIBITION ROUNDUP Reviews G Manchester Furniture Show (Manchester Central, July 15 – 17): the largest furniture and interiors event of the summer saw the first newly combined Manchester Furniture Show and MidPoint Furniture Exhibition event. Over 150 premium and mainstream brands exhibited their newest and best-selling collections in upholstery, beds and cabinet furniture, along with interior accessories, including soft furnishings. Next year’s show will be held from July 14 –16. www.manchesterfurnitureshow.com

Previews G Decorex International (Syon Park, London, September 16 – 19): The well established international trade fair for interiors offers a comprehensive exhibition of wall coverings, furniture, lighting, floor coverings of professional designers and architects. Visit www.decorex.com G NBF Bed Show (Telford International Centre, September 18-19): The annual two-day showcase for the bed industry is back for 2018 to celebrate the very best in beds. With new feature areas, short presentations on key topics and a host of exhibitors this is a show not to be missed! Parking and entry remains free and there will be complimentary refreshment vouchers for visitors. Register now at www.bedshow.co.uk

G January Furniture Show (Birmingham NEC, January 20 – 23 2019): The ‘Big One’ for furniture and interiors buyers, the JFS is the UK’s largest furniture event and perfectly timed to reveal the newest launches, the biggest names and the freshest trends. New for 2019 are the bed zone and lighting section. www.januaryfurnitureshow.com


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Ask FIRA

JOINT

FIRA AT BED SHOW

PARTY Steve Cotton, FIRA International’s technical specialist for flammability and physical upholstery, answers more of your flammability questions. I do subcontract re-upholstery work at home. Am I responsible for the FR compliance or is it the company I am sub-contracted to who took the consumer’s order?

Q

Legally there is responsibility on both parties, however the main responsibility is on the person supplying/sourcing the materials for the re-upholstery. They must ensure any materials being used are fully compliant with the Furniture & Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 (as amended) (FFFSR). Regardless of which party supplies the materials, the other party should still check there is evidence of compliance and never allow the use of non-compliant materials.

A

Is there a standard labelling protocol that fabric companies should be using to describe the FR properties of fabrics? There doesn’t seem to be any consistency between them all.

Q

Labelling requirements for fire retardant (FR) properties are only required for the final furniture item. However, for consistency and understanding, the fabric supplier should inform you as to whether the fabric has been tested to the FFFSR and if so, state which Schedules from the Regulations they passed. This is because the regulations make certain changes to the British Standards used for test methods.

A

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FIRA service technicians have confirmed they will be exhibiting at this year’s NBF Bed Show (Telford International Centre, September 18-19), offering live inspection and repair demonstrations. The team of specialists will let visitors see, first-hand, how it’s possible to resolve common customer complaints. It is the first time FIRA service technicians have taken a stand at the event. Said Emma Delea, business development manager at FIRA Service Technicians: “We’re looking forward to attending the Bed Show and meeting many of those involved in a competitive and thriving sector as well as discussing how our technical know-how can be utilised in the commercial and contract markets. “It can be very hard to convey how our technicians inspect and repair furniture products. This is why we’ve invited a few to join us on our stand, so visitors can see what’s involved in some of the more common bed repairs such as re-tufting a mattress or repairing stitching. On the inspection side we’ll be demonstrating how we measure mattress settlement against industry standards. We’ve chosen this one in particular as it’s one of the most common bed issues raised by our clients’ customers.”

For fabrics tested to British and European Standards, for the non-domestic sector, they should reference the standards passed and, where applicable, the level of ignition source passed. Do post production anti-soiling treatments alter the FR properties of a fabric?

Q A

This is dependent on the type of fabric, the FR treatment and antisoiling treatments used. It also depends on whether the FR or anti-soiling treatment was added first, as the FR properties of a fabric can be affected by the addition of an anti-soiling treatment. Due to this, fabrics treated with antisoiling should be FR tested after the addition of the anti-soiling treatment.

Upholsterer & Soft Furnisher September/October/November 2018

This is to ensure the fabric is still compliant with the relevant FR tests, making it safe and fit for purpose. Steve has been with FIRA International for 18 years and is an expert in flammability. He also has a great working knowledge of foams, mattresses and fabrics and currently represents FIRA on BSI committees dealing with foam performance. As part of FIRA’s team of upholstery experts, Steve has been involved in a number of projects to diagnose issues and assist clients in developing their products to meet the required industry standards. For more information on FIRA International visit www.fira.co.uk, email info@fira.co.uk or call 01438 777 700.


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Feature

SHADES OF SUCCESS It’s one of the more niche areas of upholstery but lampshade making and restoration is a little written about area of the trade. Now AMUSF member Joanna Heptinstall has published a new book, Sewing Lampshades, from Search Press which throws fresh light on the subject. How did you first get into lampshade making? It all started when I walked passed a shop window on Broad Street in Bath where I live and spotted a tatty 1950s lampshade frame in a shop window. I bought it, took it home and spent several evenings – and several attempts – trying to recover it. Back then, there were no books on lampshade making, no-one was running any courses and there were few people who could remember how to do it. There are similarities with stretching fabric over an iron-framed chair, so as an upholsterer I was well-armed with the skills.

Other than your new book, are there many other reference/how to sources of information where people can find out more about making lampshades? The best sources are books written in the 60s and 70s. They are heavy going – few pictures and loads of words – but they are packed with tips and techniques. Just as with upholstery, although fashions change, the techniques stay the same.

What are the similarities with upholstery? Just as with chairs, lampshades have a function.Covering a lampshade involves accurately cutting and sewing fabric to fit over a frame. It requires skill, careful craftsmanship and accuracy to achieve a professional standard. In that way it is no different to upholstery which is also enjoyed as a ‘craft activity’ by hundreds of people attending leisure classes around Britain. The appeal of both is that they are technically challenging and creative. Just like a chair, a lampshade has got to be right to look good.

What is the easiest type of lampshade to do that a novice might tackle? A simple empire shade to fit a table lamp. It has all the features that will teach you the essential core skills, but with no fiddly bits!

Does it require any special tools? Not at all: pins, scissors and a sewing machine.

What is the most challenging aspect of making lampshades? Template making. That skill is the magic feather… once you’ve cracked it you can cover anything. Lampshade frames don't come with a pattern for cutting out fabric,

Do many people offer recovering lampshades as part of their service? People are always telling me it’s almost impossible to find a good lampshade restorer. I believe it is because for the last two or three decades the fashion in interiors has been for the clean lines of drum shades but I’m finding more and more people are choosing to have traditional shades covered in a bespoke and adventurous way. The majority of people who come to my training courses are soft furnishers looking to broaden their skills, but I have taught a few upholsterers too.

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Upholsterer & Soft Furnisher September/October/November 2018

which I believe explains why so many people don't feel they can do it. What do you most enjoy about making lampshades? Are they quite technically challenging? For me, lampshades offer countless creative possibilities. I feel very relaxed about experimenting with shapes and fabrics, breaking the rules and having fun with them. As a working upholsterer, chairs never gave me this chance as I was very much working to my customer's brief. Lampshades can be held easily in two hands and are as light as a feather; in that way are far more manageable than a chair. Which particular upholstery skills do you employ when working on a lampshade? Positioning fabric onto a frame with strategically placed tension points and then easing and stretching the fabric to fit. Put it like that and a drop-in seat frame and a lampshade frame are the same thing! Do usual FR regs apply to lampshades or does a separate set of rules apply? Lampshade materials should be tested for fire resistance to comply with BS EN 60598-1-2008, the British Standard for Luminaries. Essentially, if you are going to make a lampshade for sale, all the fabrics used should be treated for fire retardancy. Sprays are available and highly effective as only small quantities are usually required. Details are available from The Lighting Association.


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14-15_USF_0918.qxp:00-00_USF_0017 20/08/2018 15:35 Page 14

Training School Special

RED HOT RESULTS During one of the hottest and longest summers in decades, AMUSF accredited training schools across the country held their open days and presentation events – as many of them wrote in to report… Wendy Shorter Interiors: The sun shone for the centre’s 13th year celebrations when students were presented with their AMUSF certificates by vice president and general manager, Richard Ranklin.   Sponsored prizes were presented by the Master of the Worshipful Company of Upholders, Tim Solway. Kobe Fabrics UK: Essential Soft Furnishings – Helen Puxley; Stage 2 Traditional Upholstery – Julia Lee and Gabi Fordham; Stage 3 Traditional Upholstery – Charlotte Brown and David Groombridge. Bute Fabrics: Halvor Hauen; Rebecca Gentry; Caroline Pearce. Martins Upholstery Supplies: Isabel Muigai . The Master of the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers, Hayden Davies, also awarded £150 cheques and certificates to the eight students who achieved a distinction for their Stage 3 qualification: Charlotte Brown (whose work is now on exhibition at FIRA); Dawn Crabtree;

Tresithick Upholstery Training

Sachiyo Green; David Groombridge; Gill Marsh; Milly Mills; Caty Nolan Tresithick Upholstery Training, Cornwall: Special mention goes to Pam Munday who not only passed all three stages of her Diploma with Distinction but also provided everyone with delightful desserts (‘Pam’s Puddings’ as they have become known) on each visit. Said the centre’s Sonja Hooper: “We don’t have an official prize giving day, as our students tend to be fairly geographically widespread. We do however have a meal out after the verification when students come to collect their furniture at the end of the day.” Derbyshire County Council Ashbourne Adult Education Centre: The centre celebrated completion of its first year of AMUSF Upholstery qualifications with an

end of year show on July 25. A presentation event is planned for later in the year. Said Jayne Haywood, programme development manager: “The

Ashbourne Adult Education Centre

Wendy Shorter Interiors

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Upholsterer & Soft Furnisher September/October/November 2018


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Training School Special was great to see Richard Ranklin here presenting the certificates and chatting with students who enjoyed talking about what’s happening south of the border!” Upholstery Craft Training Centre, Scotland: A total of 24 awards were presented by Richard Ranklin at the centre in Stirling on June 30. Diploma Stage 3 student Helen Lawton was awarded the prize for highest mark overall with a welldeserved Distinction.

Upholstery Craft Training Centre Scotland

small group has worked incredibly hard over the year to complete the course and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. It was great to see the work on display and appreciate the new skills learnt over the year. The centre has really appreciated the support of Richard Ranklin and Wendy Shorter throughout the year. ”Course tutor Julie Coxon added: “The group gave their all this year and have made me very proud!” Cornhill Courses, Scottish Training Centre, Fife: The centre awarded two passes, 18 credits and six distinctions during a scorching open day in Collessie. Said proprietor Elsie Hutcheon: “Around 70 people attended our open day, made up of students, family and friends. Top students were Lucy McLeod Stage 1, Steve McKay Stage 2 and Jan Silvera, Diploma. Some lovely work was on display and it

Cornhill courses

The Upholstery Skills Centre: The centre celebrated its most successful year to date. Dame Eleanor Laing, MP for Epping Forest and deputy speaker of the House of Commons, presented over 50 certificates to the students. As well as an impressive set of results for their AMUSF qualifications, students also won two national competitions: Charlotte Lloyd won the Young Furniture Makers’ Design Award as well as Best in Show; and Tilly Stokes won first prize in the Heico Fasteners UK Upholstery Design Competition. Students who won prizes for achieving the highest marks in their stage were: Stage 1 Craft Certificate – Eleanor Proctor; Stage 2 Intermediate Craft Certificate – Charlotte Smith & Beverly Maston; and Stage 3 Diploma – Catherine Cracknell. The centre is also grateful for the continued support from the following industry businesses for sponsoring student prizes: L Jones Chairframes – awarded to Paul Willmott; Martin’s Upholstery Supplies – Sally Mason; The Harlequin Prize – Eleanor Proctor; Sunbury Design – Debbie Jordan.

Upholsterer & Soft Furnisher

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16-17_USF_0918.qxp:16-17_USF_0617 28/08/2018 14:48 Page 16

MyDecozo HELPFUL HINTS FROM

The UK’s largest soft furnishings forum offers some hand sewing tips. Some customers are surprised to hear that many aspects of soft furnishings are hand sewn. Here are some top tips from the forum about helping the process go smoothly. • If you ever find you have to hand sew Velcro in place, run it through an unthreaded machine first so that the needle punches holes through the tape for you. Then you can pass the needle through much more easily when you stitch. • Don’t forget some of the stitches you may have learned for dress-making. Tacking stitches can be great for marking a straight fold line across the grain of a voile,

and long tailor tacks are perfect for marking the corner point when folding mitres on curtains or borders. • There are lots of different hand sewing needles available – leather ones can be helpful for thick or heavy fabrics; short sharp quilters needles are good for small jobs. Many soft furnishers swear by John James long darners for stitching hems, laying in linings and all sorts of other tasks. If you have buttons to attach through scatter cushions or small box cushions then consider a doll making needle. They are thinner than upholstery buttoning needles and have a sharp point - but still

have quite a large eye and are available in a choice of longer lengths. • Investigate different threads for different jobs – 36s is great for strong hand sewing, silk thread can be used for stitching silk fabric, while 120s is good for an overlocker and tacking. There are also ‘invisible’ (but soft) threads and monofilament for blind hemmers which can also be used for sewing by hand – nothing like the stiff nylon thread often promoted as ‘invisible’. Beaders use silamide thread which is made from waxed fine nylon and is available in various colours. It is strong and resists tangling as you sew. • If you find your thread tangles and knots as you hand sew there are a couple of tips that should help. Firstly, check you are not inadvertently rolling the needle between your fingers as you stitch. If you think you might be, then try slightly turning the needle against the direction of twist every stitch or so to counteract the movement. Using a thread conditioner also helps prevent tangles – this can be beeswax or a

ESTABLISHED 1899 NEXT DAY DELIVERY NATIONWIDE Hundreds of upholstery and soft furnishing lines including foam, leather, trimmings and vinyl Fabrics supplied include Robert Allen, Ross, Wemyss, Jim Dickens & Rioma. Tracks & Poles by Blacksmith, Decotec, Integra, Riel Chyc, Silent Gliss & Speedy. Own van delivery throughout the South West, and beyond by carrier.

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Upholsterer & Soft Furnisher September/October/November 2018


16-17_USF_0918.qxp:16-17_USF_0617 28/08/2018 15:10 Page 17

MyDecozo

product like Thread Magic which you draw the thread through before you use it. There is also a liquid called Sewers Aid which you can apply to the reel or thread. Some people also use silicone spray to mist over the reel before use. (There are also special thread conditioning boxes that you can use with sewing machines which do the same). • If you find you get sore fingers, or even puncture them with the eye end of the needle, consider using a thimble. There are

all sorts available including traditional metal, metal with an open side, leather, coin thimbles and a variety of plastic and silicone versions which grip well and also have metal areas to help push the needle through. If you check at a good haberdashery they will have various different options in different sizes to make sure you get a good fit. If you are doing a lot of hand sewing and find the finger of your ‘under’ hand gets sore, you can also buy selfadhesive pads to protect your fingertip

from the needle as it exits the fabric. • There are a range of needle threaders to buy – some are hand-held and others will sit on the table. The most basic have a fine sprung steel loop which you push through the eye and use to draw the thread back through. Some have a back plate to help you see the wire and thread clearly. Desktop models allow you to lay the thread over them in a set position, then push a button to thread the needle. You can also get a device designed to help thread your sewing machine needle. • Finally, there are also devices called needle pullers. Some of these fit on your fingers in the same way as a thimble, but they are designed to add grip to assist pulling the needle through the fabric. Others are discs of silicone to wrap around the needle and pull it through the layers of material. For really heavy work you can get little grabbers with teeth that clamp on to the needle and help pull, or a tool a little like scissors but designed to grip the needle for you.

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Upholsterer & Soft Furnisher

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Member profile

MAN OF

people look for furnishings that will last rather than have to be replaced regularly.

THE CLOTH

What are its greatest strengths and weaknesses? There’s so much diversity which you don’t see in other sectors. Some retailers do play it safe and unfortunately won’t reach out to the more eclectic brands offering something different.

Name Name of business When established

David Harris Kobe UK March 1995. Wholly owned subsidiary of Kobe Fab International, formed in 1976. Managed by David Harris Location Berkshire Speciality Luxury fabrics Number employed 12 How long have you been in business? I stepped in to the industry in 1992. What made you go in to it? I started working for my father’s company, Harris Unland, during which time we took Kobe Fabrics as a distributor brand which subsequently grew into its own company. What do you supply and to who? Fabrics to mainly interior designers, soft furnishers, contractors and upholsterers. What is the greatest challenge currently facing your business? The uncertainty of Brexit and selfimposed retail austerity. What makes up the bulk of your business? Soft furnishings. The emergence of our Essente brand has helped our business and offers mid-level curtain and upholstery fabrics at an affordable price point. What changes do you detect in the industry? People are moving away from plain fabrics and looking towards more pattern and texture. Our Essente brand reflects that change in mindset. What keeps you motivated? Many of our customers are driven by emotion, so being able to offer them the

very latest styles is something that keeps me driven. We are closely connected to the fashion industry which is constantly changing and evolving, so being ahead of the times and reflecting that through our fabrics is really exciting. What aspect of your work do you most enjoy? We are a family business with strong principals. My wife and daughter work within the company which is wonderful. Being able to get out there and meet our customers face-to-face is something that brings me a great deal of satisfaction. Professionally, what is your greatest frustration? Design plagiarism. How do you see the future of your business? The fast fashion, throw away culture has ruled the High street for a number of years, which is all well and good but sadly poor quality doesn’t last. The consumer has increasingly higher expectations, especially in the home, and will expect to pay more for products and services in exchange for something that will stand the test of time. As a supplier, how do you see the future of the upholstery and soft furnishings sector? With the increase in appreciation towards the craft, the sector should thrive as

Tell us about the most unusual/ bizarre/funny request you have ever dealt with? There’s a fashion designer who occasionally uses our fabrics to create the most flamboyant and original clothes – they always look absolutely fantastic! How long have you been a member of the AMUSF and how important has this been to your business? 23 years and it has helped me build up and retain a good relationship with upholsterers. Professionally, who or where do you turn to for advice/ a second opinion? My wife Nikki. We work together so she understands the business as much as I do. She always gives great advice. When you talk to a customer the conversation always turns to...? Sample books! What is the single most important piece of advice you would give to someone starting out in your business? Have a plan and stick to it. What has been your proudest professional moment? Coming out of the situation with the fire that wrecked our warehouse in Holland back in 2010. Our customers really stuck by us through that horrendous time. And being able to employ more reps to spread the Kobe message throughout the UK makes me feel incredibly proud. Contact details: 01344 771653 Website https://en.kobe.eu Email: sales@kobe.eu

IF YOU WOULD LIKE YOUR BUSINESS TO BE FEATURED ON THE MEMBER PROFILE PAGE, CONTACT EDITOR JAN TURNER AT editorial@upholsterers.co.uk

18

Upholsterer & Soft Furnisher September/October/November 2018


19_USF_0618.qxp:000_IM_0017 28/08/2018 15:12 Page 1

C. S. Osborne & Co

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20-22_USF_0918.qxp:00-00_USF_0017 20/08/2018 15:38 Page 20

Feature

THE BEST OF BRITISH Earlier this year, U&SF magazine took a look at the rising popularity of French upholstery. In this issue we offer an insight into the very best of traditional English upholstery skills through a business which deals exclusively with Britain’s most elite clientele. or Barry Ansell, working on commissions that involve some of the nation’s most priceless treasures – both publicly and privately owned – is bread and butter stuff. From prestigious country houses to A-list celebrities and even the Royals, he works with them all. Business is all word-of-mouth, there are never any complaints and certainly no returns. His company, which trades as R D Robins Upholstery, is a shining example of the best of the best in traditional reupholstery and restoration work. And with a seven-strong team (including son Tobias and wife Debra), Barry believes his is also the last of the UK’s large traditional upholstery firms. Now based in a 3,500 sq ft purpose built unit in the grounds of his home near Epping, Barry is driven by sheer pride in his work for stately homes, museums, interior designers, private collectors and antique dealers around the world. But as he says, while the work may be prestigious, there are no great fortunes to be made.

F

It speaks volumes about the quality of work he and his staff deliver to know that his team has undertaken the upholstery restoration of one of the most important furniture collections in the world – the Chippendale collection at Dumfries House. Famously saved by Prince Charles from being split up and sold, it is, says Barry, “the most important furniture we have ever worked on.” That’s saying something considering he has spent the past 12 years doing a complete restoration of the public and private furniture at Chatsworth House. He has also done commissions for Lord Rothschild, the Gettys, Charles and Diana at Highgrove, Ringo Starr, Rod Stewart, countless other celebrities and any amount of Lords, Ladies and MPs. But then, it’s hard to know how many

Chippendale Sofa – Dumfries House

Part of an original suite seen in the main library at Chatsworth House. Restored and recovered from start to finish. Featured in many TV programmes including Peaky Blinders.

other upholsterers would go to quite the lengths Barry and his team do to maintain the integrity of the pieces being restored. They regularly re-card original horsehair stuffing through their double drum carding machine; and remove, straighten and re-use original decorative nails. Indeed, such lengths does Barry go to – particularly given the difficulty obtaining top quality wadding, tacks, scrim, twine, gimping and other supplies – that he once bought 1200 brand new, never-beenused mattresses dating back to the Second World War, simply so he could extract and re-card the horsehair fillings. “Every piece we work on is a museum piece,” says Barry. “We work to within millimetres and what we do is as much about conservation as re-upholstery. Only a handful of people do what we do – and someone coming in to this would need to have at least 30 or 40 years’ experience to do the work we do. Continued on p22 ››

20

Upholsterer & Soft Furnisher September/October /November 2018


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20-22_USF_0918.qxp:00-00_USF_0017 20/08/2018 15:39 Page 22

Feature

Original child’s carriage used by the German Royal Family. Before...

...and after. It would have been pulled by a dog or a Shetland pony.

A new sofa commision for a private client.

“It’s the sort of work where one dining chair can be on the bench for two weeks and I can tell as soon as we get into it if it should be nailed or braided, how many times it has been re-upholstered, if there have been any replacement rails or back legs. And whether it should be a French or English edge.” It’s a skill and knowledge base gathered over a lifetime of working in the craft. Barry originally started out as an apprentice at the age of 15, following in the footsteps of his father Stanley Ansell, an AMUSF member and Fellow. He then went on to set up his own business – B S Ansell – and later also bought the long established firm R D Robins which, like his own, had a reputation for working on the very finest of furniture. The two businesses were amalgamated in the mid-1990s and, at its peak, the company employed around 15 upholsterers. Today, R D Robins is one of the few

22

traditional upholstery workshops that still regularly takes on apprentices who are lucky enough to work with some supremely skilled upholsterers. As well as Barry and his son Tobias the team includes an upholsterer who has worked with Barry for some 30 years – and another who is still working the bench, aged 78. Sadly it is now an unusual rather than common place business model and Barry himself is acutely aware that the craft faces an uphill battle to survive as both our skill base and the availability of quality tools and materials to work with diminishes. “We live in an age where 98% of upholstery in the UK is stuffed with coconut fibre rather than horsehair and most people now work with staples rather than tacks,” he says. It’s a world away from the work he has been doing, for instance, at Chatsworth, where much of the furniture he has been

Upholsterer & Soft Furnisher September/October /November 2018

Portcullis chair for the Palace of Westminister.

restoring dates back to 1780 and has only been reupholstered once in all that time. It rather begs the question: just who is going to do this kind of highly specialist work the next time it needs doing in another 100 years’ time?


EMB LETON B AY

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24_USF_0618.qxp:00_USF_0017 20/08/2018 15:40 Page 24

Expert advice

SPRING FORWARD It’s advice that remains as relevant today as it was when Frederick Palmer’s famed book, Practical Upholstery, was first published in 1921. This extract looks at spring edges. he method of construction known as the spring edge renders the front less liable to damage by undue pressure, as well as making the seat more comfortable Figs. 131 to 136 illustrate the method of fixing springs on the front rail of a seat. The importance of securing them firmly by the various cords and twines should be insisted on, as this part of the seat is necessarily subjected to much wear. After springs of the correct size and strength are selected, the best plan is to place the seat springs first before commencing the edge springs. Fig. 137 represents the side view of an ordinary divan easy chair seat. (1) is a 6in. (2) and (3) 9in., and (4) 6in. spring. Spring edges are of two kinds – independent and fixed. (See Figs. 134 and 135). In the former method, care must be taken that the springs are close to the upright arm pieces, have a clear space of

T

24

1/2in. (see A and B, Fig. 134) to ensure the free play of the springs. The next procedure is to drive in temporary tacks on either side of each spring at positions shown at A and B, Fig. 132. The end of a length of cord is fixed at C, looped over one of the coils of the spring at about one-third of its height. The spring is then drawn slightly forward by tension on the cord which is secured by tacking at D, and the operation repeated with the other springs. During the work, each spring is measured with a rule to ensure uniformity of height. The resiliency of the springs must now be somewhat reduced, as shown by the dotted line (Fig. 133). Proceed as follows: Cut four lengths of spring twine, take one of them and tie it to the centre of the bottom coil of spring A (Fig. 133). Loop over the top cord and knot at B, at the same time drawing the spring tightly downwards so that the top coil is in a horizontal position; knot again at D, see spring marked (2), Fig. 133, then strain down the twine from E to F, see spring (3), Fig. 133. The fourth spring shows the operation completed. The beginner should practice this operation constantly, as it will be some time before he will be able to manipulate the springs to bring them to a given height correctly. The next process is to strengthen and support the springs by a foundation acting as a substitute for the wood rail. This is done by the fixing of cane to the springs. Wire is sometimes used, as it is more easily bent to shape, but cane is preferable, as it presents a larger surface for the subsequent sewings than wire. In the case of a straight front, such as is shown at Fig. 134,

Upholsterer & Soft Furnisher September/October/November 2018

the cane should be prepared first before fixing in position. First cut the length required by measuring the distance between A and B and allowing sufficient to grip each of the end springs at C and D. Some varieties of cane are more brittle than others, and to avoid wasting material it is a good plan to test a small portion before shaping. Bending with the web pincers is preferable to cutting notches, as the latter method sometimes result in breakage. Soaking the cane in water before bending also facilitates the work. The importance of allowing 1/2in. space between the end springs and the upright arm pieces, in order to ensure freedom of action, must be remembered. After the cane is correctly shaped it must be secured to the front of the top coil of the springs. This is effected by binding with twine. When finished the cane rests on the top edge of the springs, and its ends must be properly secured by additional binding at C and D. Fig. 135 shows a fixed spring edge, a method of construction used in inexpensive easy chairs and chesterfields. In this method the ends of the cane are covered with web and secured to the upright arm pieces by several tackings. Edges such as these will stand much hard wear, but it is obvious that the buoyancy of a seat constructed as shown at Fig. 135 is limited, as the ends are fixed and the springs have no independent action.


25_USF_0918.qxp:000_IM_0017 06/09/2018 14:41 Page 1

Management Position Available – Help shape the Future of the AMUSF

Upholstery Tutor Required J A Milton Upholstery Supplies is looking for an Upholstery tutor to deliver short courses in traditional and modern upholstery to our clients at our workshop in Shropshire. We therefore require a professional person with plenty of experience in the industry. This is a highly rewarding position and we are looking for someone who will work well with our existing clients and current team. Looking for them to bring humour, personality and success to this popular part of our Business. You need to thrive on the success of others, hold relevant professional qualifications, a commitment and enjoy providing an excellent learning experience for our students. The Tutor can be a self-employed contractor or an employee of J.A.Milton which ever suits the candidate best. Normally a part time flexible working schedule (as courses are available during the day and weekends), but happy to discuss further. For more details of this vacancy please contact David Hayes at dave@jamiltonupholstery.co.uk

Total Textile Treatments: Flame Retarding, Water, Soil & Stain Resistant, Antibacterial, Sample Trials & Testing In-House Contact: T: 02392594313 sales@euroflam.co.uk www.euroflam.co.uk Unit G1, Hazleton Interchange Industrial Estate, Lakesmere Rd., Horndean, Hants. PO8 9JU

The AMUSF exists to represent and promote the bespoke upholstery and soft furnishing industry representing over 700 upholsterers, soft furnishers, training centres, students and trade suppliers. Our board of volunteer Directors have created an exciting new five year plan to educate the public, support the trade and grow both our membership and our influence across and beyond the sector. Due to the planned retirement of our current Association Manager we now need to recruit a special individual willing and capable of working with our willing band of volunteers and small administrative staff to make that vision a reality. The role involves supporting members, consumers and the Board as well as representing the Association with external bodies, promoting AMUSF membership and qualifications and the day to-day general management of the Association’s affairs. The key elements within the Directors strategy can be summarised as follows: • Improving membership engagement. • Growing membership to the whole sector. • Expanding training for all - both through our own qualifications and liaison with national training bodies. The ideal candidate will have first class communication, marketing and management skills, experience as a senior manager in the running of a trade association or business, some background in upholstery, soft furnishings or interiors is desirable but not essential but principally a lot of energy and enthusiasm. The AMUSF office is based in High Wycombe but the role is a national one so your base location could be flexible. We are also open to the idea of a job share so if you only have part of the skill set it would still be worth talking with us. Salary on appointment will be dependent upon your skills and experience. For a full job description or to ask any questions please contact our current manager Richard Ranklin on 01494 569120 or richard.ranklin@upholsterers.co.uk.

t s l o u h F t p f U &So To advertise in the next issue of U&SF contact the sales team on

01732 441134


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Q&A

IN THE HOTSEAT... …WITH CARL IRVING, UPHOLSTERER How would you most like to be remembered? As someone who harnessed the joy of arts and crafts and helped others realise the value of restoration.

What’s the best thing about our industry? Upholstery is about much more than furniture. Upholders, as we were originally termed, were pillars of society and helped build the fibre of our communities by harnessing the value and joy that the arts and crafts offer.

How would classmates at school have described you? After asking a few of them, their response was ‘Cheeky, funny, a guy with a big heart and someone who could make a few quid, just like his dad’. Some friends saw my vulnerability; good friends help you persevere in life, and I owe much to that love.

And the worst? How the trade has been undervalued and cheapened for commercial gain and greed. What would you change? I don’t think I would like to change anything, just continue to learn.

And the teachers? Probably exactly the same but a bit cheekier! I think they enjoyed the humour and saw my heart. How did you get into this business? In 1985 I began as a YTS upholstery trainee in an old factory in Oswaldtwistle. My dad, David, and granddad, Ronnie Irving, both craftsmen, inspired me. What would you class as your greatest achievement? Getting married. Your greatest regret? Don’t have any, all lessons. Is your glass half empty or half full? Full. Who has been your greatest inspiration and why? Within the furniture industry it has to be Charles Robert Ashbee. The school of handicraft he founded worked, it brought together a collection of creative practitioners who championed quality and pioneered the furniture and interior industry.

26

Tell me a secret. No I keep them.

When it comes to sport do you fall into the active or armchair camp? My sport is dance which is more of an art form but still very active. Football or rugby? I like both but as a Blackburn Rovers fan it gets emotional. Your perfect day? A day full of laughter spent with those you cherish. Your desert island disc? It’s A Long Way to Tipperary. If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing? I would like to have been an RAF pilot but cheek got the better of me. I’m very happy with being a craftsman and wouldn’t change the journey.

Upholsterer & Soft Furnisher September/October/November 2018

What’s in your living room? A sofa, several tables, a TV and sideboard. I’m drawn to a picture frame hung with nothing in it: a vision or picture yet to be realised. What winds you up? Driving on the M3. What gives you the greatest satisfaction? When people are happy with quality and appreciate the time and effort required to achieve it. Doer or talker? Doer and talker. I can multi task although I think my wife Wendy would disagree. Best piece of advice to someone starting out? Keep an open mind and always be a student ready to receive new lessons and methods.


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28_USF_0918.qxp:000_USF_1217 28/08/2018 14:19 Page 1

Tel: 01691 624023 jamilton.co.uk

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Great Wall Of

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in aid of...

Nightingale House Hospice Wrexham 19th -27th October 2018 All donations gratefully received: www.justgiving.com/joangreatwalltribute

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Upholsterer & Soft Furnisher  

September/October/November 2018

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